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This study examined 412 college students' essay performance on two prompt types, a traditional prose essay and a type incorporating graphics, modeled on those from English Language Challenge Examination (ELCE) developed for the University of Southern California (USC). The majority of the participants were international students at USC. Each individual wrote one essay based on one of four randomly assigned prompts. Each essay was rated by independent raters using a 10-point criterion-referenced rhetorical scale developed for the ELCE. A subsample of 30 essays was additionally analyzed by means of holistic and quantitative rating scales. Differences between the mean scores on the rhetorical scale were found to be insignificant for all subgroups of participants, including various proficiency levels, academic status, field of study, and various native language groups. Initial analyses of students' responses to two questionnaires and to questions posed during individual interviews indicated variation in familiarity with graphics and some concern about the validity of using graphics as contextual cues with essay prompts to be used for testing. Six appendixes include the essay prompts, student questionnaires, interview questions, prompt evaluation forms, the rhetorical rating scale, and the holistic rating scale. Contains 57 references. (MDM)

Descriptors: College Students, English (Second Language), Essays, Evaluation Methods, Evaluation Research, Foreign Students, Higher Education, Holistic Evaluation, Influences, Language Proficiency, Measurement Techniques, Questionnaires, Rating Scales, Statistical Analysis, Student Evaluation

Autor: Weasenforth, Donald L.


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